My family and I had been debating what to do over the (somewhat drizzly) Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, so when I found out entry to Lancaster Food & Drink Festival is completely FREE and there’s even free parking, we were sold. Whilst I wouldn’t call myself a complete foodie, I do love any opportunity to taste free food and take pictures of it too!
The Festival was held over two days in Lancaster Leisure Park, attracting top quality local producers, growers, artisans, bars and food retailers from Lancashire and South Cumbria.
There were tents full of retailers offering free samples of goods like olive oils, balsamic vinegar, honey, cheeses, ice cream, crisps, cakes, pies, potted shrimp and even smoked mackerel. As the title suggests, it wasn’t all about the food, there were also plenty of drinks too, including locally brewed cordials, beers, fruit juices and ciders. Naturally I walked around the stands grazing on all the local produce and sampling a cider or two!
Celebrated chefs were also there to give live cooking demonstrations in the Demonstration Kitchen at the VIP tent. Tickets were free-of-charge, and available on a first-come-first-serve basis on the Sunday morning of the festival.
The grounds of Lancaster Leisure Park were buzzing with people and even their canine companions too. It was a great opportunity to sample some of the region’s delicious food and drink, learn about how it is produced and purchase some goods to take home for the kitchen cupboard. There were also plenty of other facilities to keep visitors occupied, including an indoor antiques centre, a farm shop and a famous microbrewery.
Since the Leisure Park was located only half a mile away from Lancaster’s historic centre, we decided to explore the city and its well-known landmark, Lancaster Castle. The castle, which sits on a hill top overlooking the city, is owned by Her Majesty the Queen and was also one of the longest serving operational prisons in Europe until its closure was announced for March 2011. It has quite a dark history and many alleged witches were brought here to face trial, including the famous Pendle Witches, who were sentenced to death here in 1612. The castle is open for guided tours, but instead we chose to walk around outside and enjoy the sunshine.
After visiting the castle we wanted to stop for a cup of coffee somewhere that wasn’t a Starbucks or a Cafe Nero, so I googled ‘Best Cafes in Lancaster’ on my phone. I don’t know what I’d do anymore without my smartphone to discover the best local spots- it has really changed the way I travel. One of the cafes that caught my eye was a place called The Music Room which had rave reviews. Coincidentally, at the exact same moment I said the name, my Mum pointed to a sign with an arrow that said “The Music Room”. Located down an alleyway in a quiet square, The Music Room has a glamorous baroque facade. It was a really good find, serving lots of different types of coffee, a variety of speciality teas and some yummy cakes. The best thing about the cafe is its decor- inside it’s like a trendy cafe you would find in London, whilst outside there are tables and chairs with blankets to keep guests warm.
It’s incredible really that there are so many places in England I haven’t explored yet, but I’m really enjoying ticking them off my list!